Sunday, February 3, 2013

Going to San Francisco

Lectio Divina

My mouth shall declare your justice.

Psalm 71:15


Caught up with the most recent issue of National Catholic Reporter this morning. Loring, The Cry of the Poor: Cracking White Male Supremacy, is in the back chapel and is coming with me to San Francisco (see below). In case you did not notice, Mumford, The City in History, is on hold for now.


Mass here at San Lorenzo; I was the cantor for the liturgy. Took my time at breakfast, talked to a few parishioners, and read the sorrowful mysteries in the Los Angeles Times concerning the criminal coverup of priestly abuse by Cardinal Roger Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, and his deputy, the now-resigned auxiliary bishop Thomas Curry. This morning at Mass I prayed that God may heal the children, youth, and adults who have suffered great harm because of the abuse of priests and religious and the irresponsible, unethical decisions by our episcopal leaders. I also prayed that God may show our Church, from the bishops down to all the faithful, how to do penance and make personal and corporate restitution to survivors of abuse for the sake of reconciliation, truth, justice, and ultimately compassion.

I understand why many Catholics may be feeling defensive at this time. I can understand their prayers for Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry. They are indeed to be pitied for their (willful) blindness that allowed unspeakable sin and suffering to continue. Surely their emotional distress is real and their contrition is genuine. But God hears the cry of the poor. None are poorer than the survivors of sexual abuse. And if the bishops' personal trials are worth our grief, how much more should the pain of innocent children and youth, wounded body and soul, stir our hearts?

Yes, priests and religious who abused others are also to pitied, too, caught in miserable pathologies not entirely of their own making, as they also may have been victims of sexual trauma. The episcopal leaders of the Church had a responsibility to lead their wayward shepherds into healing and recovery the same as the survivors of their predations. But they also had a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of the Church from the threat of further assaults. These responsibilities were not and are not mutually exclusive. The bishops and their deputies, in Boston, Los Angeles, in dioceses all over the United States (and in other countries) chose to protect and support their priests at the expense of those who were abused. They preferred the good of one group of sick and suffering members of the body of Christ to the good of another, vaster group in the body. Why? Are not all the members equal in dignity and worth under Christ the head? Are not all of equal value? If one member continues to suffer, do not all the parts suffer?

I wonder what penance and personal restitution would look like for Cardinal Mahony, Bishop Curry, and numerous other leaders of the Church who have successfully avoided their day in court. It is too late for the civil and criminal law and the apparatus of secular government to effect a healing transformation in our Church. It is not too late for those guilty and responsible for the manifold wrongs of the priest abuse scandal to actively work out reconciliation through the peaceful means of restorative justice.


Tomorrow morning, the novices are making their first extended trip away from San Lorenzo Seminary. We are going on pilgrimage to San Francisco. Our first stop on the way north is in Big Sur to a monastery of Camaldolese monks for Mass at midday and lunch. When we get to San Francisco we will visit, among other places, the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi. We will stay with our Capuchin brothers at their friaries in Berkeley, Burlingame, and San Francisco. We will continue our pilgrimage in the city on Tuesday, parade or no parade (for the bread and circuses may be coming to town, don't you know!) and on Wednesday we will be free most of the day to tour San Francisco according to our personal interests. We will return to the novitiate Thursday evening.

I've given no consideration where to go and what to do on our personal time Wednesday. Wherever I go, I hope to go prayerfully. With my brothers, I look forward to a spiritual journey (although, of course, every day is a spiritual journey). Let us thank our Camaldolese and Capuchin brothers ahead of time for their hospitality.

You can expect to read more about these travels in the March issue of the novitiate newsletter. I expect to be offline for the duration of this trip, but if I can get access to a computer for at least 15 minutes, I will check in.


Continuing to be temperate. The clouds of yesterday have given way to brightness and clear sunshine. The weather promises to be cool, maybe cold and windy, but hospitable.

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